Back in the day, some gas stations gave out “stamps” with each gas purchase. Customers could save them and exchange them at the Green Stamp store, or Blue Chip Stamp store for some pretty cool stuff.
I was nineteen, and I’d been working for Roger Robideaux—he was a pretty cool guy—at the Gulf Station for a few weeks, when I noticed a lot of people didn’t want the stamps. I figured it was probably too much trouble; saving them, licking them, and driving all the way into Phoenix to the stamp store. So! I got this fabulous idea; if a customer didn’t want their stamps, I would keep them!
In no time at all I had a mess of Blue Chip stamps, and was off to the Blue Chip Store, where I got an eight-track tape player for my car. This stamp bidness was the bomb!
A week or so later I was sitting in Roger’s office chair, my feet up on his desk, browsing through the Blue Chip catalog, deciding what to get next, when Roger walked in.
He looked at the catalog then looked at me with his head cocked to one side and asked, “When a customer says they don’t want their Blue Chip stamps, what do you do?”
I grinned. “I keep them,” I said, raising the catalog. “You can get neat stuff!”
“Don’t do that!” he barked. He seemed excited, and maybe a little bit mad, but it was hard to tell with Roger.
“How come?” I said.
He did a funny little dancing jig, rolled his eyes and said, “Because I have to pay for the stamps!”
That made no sense at all to my nineteen-year-old brain. “Then why do you give them away?”
He went over and hit the wall with his hand, danced a little more and said, “Just don’t keep them. Okay?”
The bell rang, signaling we had a customer at the gas pumps, so I slapped the Blue Chip catalog onto the desk, gave Roger a little salute—I was kind of a smart aleck sometimes—said, “Got it, chief,” then sauntered out the door.
After I’d filled the customer’s tank, I asked them if they wanted their Blue Chip stamps. The lady said, “I sure do. You can get lots of nice stuff with those stamps.”
I grinned and said, “Yeah, I heard about that.”
I figured Roger was watching me, so when I got to the driver’s window, I made a big show of holding the stamps up where he could see them, handed them to the customer, held my empty hands up for Roger to see, and smiled real big. Did I mention I was a smart aleck sometimes?
Roger smacked himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand then did one of his little dancing fits. Yep, he was a cool guy to work for, ol’ Roger.